Selection and Application Guide to Offender Tracking Systems

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1 Selection and Application Guide to Offender Tracking Systems for Criminal Justice Professionals NIJ Guide Prepared by: National Institute of Justice Office of Science and Technology Washington, DC June 2012 NCJ xxxxx

2 NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE John H. Laub Director Kristina Rose Deputy Director George Tillery Office Director, Office of Science and Technology Davis Hart Division Director, Operational Technologies Division Jack Harne Physical Scientist, Operational Technologies Division The preparation of this document was sponsored by the National Institute of Justice. The National Institute of Justice is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the Community Capacity Development Office; the Office for Victims of Crime; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART).

3 _ Foreword This document, Selection and Application Guide to Offender Tracking Systems for Criminal Justice Professionals, provides guidance concerning the functionality, procurement, selection, use and maintenance of offender tracking systems (OTSs) used by law enforcement and corrections practitioners to track the location of participants. The primary audience for this guide includes criminal justice officials, departmental and/or governmental technology managers, and system purchasers. The development of Offender Tracking System Standard (and accompanying documents, including this guide) was undertaken by NIJ to aid criminal justice practitioners in the proper acquisition and application use of OTSs. Documents were developed via a committee approach with the involvement of three groups: a Special Technical Committee (STC), an Advisory Working Group (AWG) and a Steering Committee (SC). Each of these committees supported the development of the documents, ultimately working together to ensure criminal justice community and stakeholder input on this initiative. This guide broadly outlines the overall functionality of OTSs as operated in the law enforcement and corrections environments, highlighting major system use considerations and stressing the importance of the NIJ Standard. A baseline technical overview of OTS anatomy is presented in order to educate readers on system fundamentals. The guide offers an abbreviated description of the technical standard, written in lay terms so that system purchasers and managerial practitioners can learn why specific components were included. The guide outlines leading practices for system procurement and other supplemental considerations as identified from experience by criminal justice practitioners. This guide also includes several procurement recommendations broad enough in scope to be useful to any agency intended to serve as a resource for system purchasers. The guide also includes a list of participants who took part in development of the documents for the NIJ OTS project. Nothing in this document is intended to create any legal or procedural rights enforceable against the United States. Moreover, nothing in this document is intended to constitute or imply any endorsement, recommendation or favoring by the United States of any specific commercial product, process or service. Finally, nothing in this document creates any obligation for manufacturers, suppliers, public safety agencies or others to follow or adopt any NIJ voluntary equipment standard. J June 2012: Draft for Public Comment iii

4 _ Contents EXECUTIVE SUMMARY... 1 INTRODUCTION... 3 CHAPTER 1. TECHNOLOGY OVERVIEW... 5 ACTIVE, PASSIVE AND HYBRID TRACKING... 5 MULTI-PIECE AND ONE-PIECE DEVICES... 5 POST-PROCESSING AND ONBOARD PROCESSING SYSTEMS... 6 AUXILIARY EQUIPMENT... 7 CHAPTER 2. PROCUREMENT CONSIDERATIONS... 8 CHOOSING THE PROPER TECHNOLOGY... 9 VENDOR CONSIDERATIONS MONITORING CENTER SERVICES OFFERED TRAINING OFFERED EQUIPMENT TRIALS COMMON PROCUREMENT PROCESSES CHAPTER 3. PROGRAM MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS POLICY CONSIDERATIONS STAFFING AND WORKLOAD BUDGET PLANNING RESPONSE PROTOCOLS TRAINING CONSIDERATIONS MANAGING TRACKING EVIDENCE DATA RETENTION CONSIDERATIONS LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS MEDIA RELATIONS PROTECTING DATA BY CONTROLLING ACCESS TO SOFTWARE MEASURING OFFENDER TRACKING PROGRAM OUTCOMES CHAPTER 4. OPERATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS MATCHING TECHNOLOGY TO OFFENDER TYPE ERGONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS INSTALLATION PARTICIPANT INITIAL ORIENTATION INSPECTION, CARE AND MAINTENANCE FACTORS THAT IMPACT LOCATION TRACKING DATA, MONITORING AND ALERT CENTERS INFORMATION AND DATA EXCHANGE J June 2012: Draft for Public Comment iv

5 _ CIRCUMVENTION CONSIDERATIONS CRIME SCENE CORRELATION REPORT CONSIDERATIONS BATTERY CONSIDERATIONS ROBUSTNESS CONSIDERATIONS COMMUNICATION WITH THE PARTICIPANT APPENDIX A: COMMON TERMS FOR OFFENDER TRACKING SYSTEMS APPENDIX B: LINKS AND REFERENCE MATERIALS APPENDIX C: OFFENDER TRACKING SYSTEM PROJECT ROSTERS J June 2012: Draft for Public Comment v

6 Executive Summary Offender tracking system (OTS) technology has emerged as an important tool for an agency s mission of managing selected participants in the community. Whether an agency faces a mandate to track sex offenders, has a need to more closely monitor higher risk offenders or is looking for confinement alternatives for low-risk offenders, this technology can often be a helpful tool. However, misunderstanding the technology s limitations can lead to unrealistic expectations. Also, selection of a system that does not best meet an agency s needs can result in frustrated workers and criminal justice partners, disgruntled supervisors and a community unsatisfied with the level of public safety provided. Selection and Application Guide to Offender Tracking Systems for Criminal Justice Professionals (hereafter, the guide) offers agencies assistance on a variety of OTS issues. The information provided herein will create a better understanding of the technology while offering proven strategies for managing a program. In addition to providing an overview of the technology, this guide addresses three broad topics: procurement considerations, program management and operational issues. When choosing an OTS vendor, your agency should select the most appropriate technology for the intended population. Procurement officials need to consider a number of hardware and software issues. You should have a thorough understanding of a bidder s proposed technology and take the equipment on trial, if possible. Consider feedback from supervising officers before making a final selection. Investigate the credibility of the vendor, including the steps taken to maintain the integrity and security of the data. The management of an OTS program can be complex and requires quite a different skill set from that needed to oversee a traditional community supervision program. Prepare policies that clearly define all aspects of the program s objectives and delineate who is responsible for each activity. Officers need specialized training to master the highly technical aspects of the program. Agencies need to teach officers how to manage evidence relating to participant tracking violations as well as prepare them to address tracking technology competently in a court of law. As a manager, you should be able to obtain sufficient funding for an OTS program. Agencies often underestimate officer workloads associated with OTS programs, resulting in inadequate budgets. Ensure that the program s data is protected by assigning levels of access to appropriate staff while taking steps to prevent hackers from also gaining access. Prepare to address media issues, especially when a high-profile event occurs. Finally, you should monitor measure the June 2012: Draft for Public Comment 1

7 success of a program by measuring performance outcomes and comparing them with the program s objectives. All officers involved in the program need to understand a number of operational features of OTS technology. They should know the most secure method of installing a tracking device on a participant, how to protect the security of inventoried items and how to properly care for the equipment. Your agency should teach participants acceptable cleaning methods and provide an orientation to the participant that will encourage schedule compliance. When evaluating tracking points, you must be able to understand all of the factors that impact accuracy before making a decision that a violation has occurred. You should know how to generate the reports needed for the day-to-day supervision of a caseload while understanding the process required for obtaining special reports, and understand the conditions under which an OTS device is intended to operate. Factors such as extreme temperatures, high humidity and shock can have an adverse effect on tracking equipment. This guide provides a glossary of terms commonly used in the OTS industry in an appendix. There has been much confusion over terminology and this glossary should serve to provide clarity. The guide provides references to publications and links to websites for additional resources on these topics. It also includes a listing of the members of the Special Technical Committee that worked on the Offender Tracking Standard. June 2012: Draft for Public Comment 2

8 Introduction History In 1996, participants began carrying the very first tracking devices in bulky backpacks. Conceptually, they were the same as many of the multi-piece devices on the market today. Each consisted of a cell phone, a GPS receiver and a battery integrated into a box weighing several pounds. The device was electronically tethered to the participant with a transmitter attached to the ankle. Although the GPS chipsets used were primitive by today s standards, and the cell phone rapidly drained the battery, the system was considered a breakthrough and it launched a new era for the criminal justice system. In the late 1990s, there were just two manufacturers of OTS equipment; today, the industry includes more than a dozen companies. For the most part, this is great news for agencies. Not only has the competition driven prices down, but agencies are now more likely to find products with features that will better meet their specific needs. New features offered include voice communication, audible and vibratory alerts to warn participants of schedule violations, improved software for user-friendly case management, superior mapping technology with playback capabilities and mobile restriction zones that can be used to keep a participant away from other tracked participants, just to mention a few. As the use of this equipment increases, more innovations can be expected and leasing costs for the equipment may decrease even further. Need for a Standard Unfortunately, all of this market growth and product innovation has occurred in an environment where there are no standards in place. This has resulted in end user confusion about the capabilities of the products they have procured. As a result, unrealistic expectations for OTS programs and disgruntled stakeholders are commonplace. The Special Technical Committee (STC) found a lack of consensus among its members over the meaning of even the most basic concepts of offender tracking, including active tracking, passive tracking, accuracy and battery life. Without clear definitions for these terms, it is impossible for agencies to compare the relative value of one product to another. Members of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Community Corrections Technology Working Group (TWG) have been hearing concerns from the criminal justice community about these issues for many years. In 2006, the TWG decided to make the development of a standard for OTS technology one of its top priorities. NIJ found funding for the project in 2009 and June 2012: Draft for Public Comment 3

9 established the Offender Tracking Standard STC to develop such a standard. The first meeting of the Offender Tracking Standard STC took place in September Much of the demand for OTS products has come about as a result of legislative mandates. By 2010, 33 states had enacted legislation requiring that this technology be used on sex offenders. However, many of these states have not yet implemented the programs, and several others have newly formed programs. Considering there are more than 625,000 registered sex offenders in the United States, there appears to be plenty of room for continued growth in the use of offender tracking technology. Some states have begun using OTS technology to track gang members and other jurisdictions use the devices to monitor habitual burglars, track domestic abusers and alert victims. It is reasonable to expect many other applications for this technology in the criminal justice field in the future. The demand for OTS technology is great, and the products are becoming more innovative and affordable. However, without the presence of a standard that delineates performance requirements, it is difficult for an agency and its procurement officers to know whether the equipment they are procuring will fully meet their needs. The goals of developing the Offender Tracking Standard and the associated conformity testing program included clearly setting forth the definition of terms, confirming equipment performance claims under realistic and controlled environments, and ensuring that the devices are robustly built and less vulnerable to circumvention attempts. June 2012: Draft for Public Comment 4

10 Chapter 1. Technology Overview Manufacturers of OTS equipment use a variety of technologies and equipment configurations to monitor and record the location of participants. It is important for your agency to understand how the systems function so it can make an informed decision when selecting an OTS technology. Active, Passive and Hybrid Tracking Active systems are usually capable of collecting location points at a rate of at least one point per minute. An active system provides location and status information to the agency in near-real time. An agency also can request updated location information ( ping a device ) and receive near-real time location and status data from an actively reporting device. A passive system works similarly to an active system, except location and status information is uploaded to the data center at predetermined intervals, usually once per day. A passive device usually cannot be pinged for current location and status data. Hybrid systems are not addressed in the standard, but are commonly mentioned by OTS vendors. Although no universally accepted definition or functionality exists for a hybrid system, the general consensus is that a hybrid system operates in a passive mode until any of several predetermined triggering events occur, causing the device to switch to an active reporting mode. Common triggering events include zone infractions, tamper indications and low power status. Multi-Piece and One-Piece Devices Agencies contemplating an OTS program face an important question: should they select a onepiece or a multi-piece tracking system? Both types of systems have advantages. Your agency s objectives should play a large part in deciding which type of device will work best for its needs. A one-piece device has many benefits. One-piece devices require fewer pieces of equipment in inventory and less storage space. They remove the need to tether the tracking unit to another device to ensure the equipment is with the participant. Bracelet Gone alarms sometimes overwhelm an agency s staff and use of a one-piece device eliminates such alarms. Also, participants need not remember to carry an unattached tracking device with them at all times a requirement with which some cannot (or do not) consistently comply. On the other hand, multi-piece systems can offer more security than most one-piece devices. Multi-piece systems equipped with motion sensing technology can tell whether the tracking unit is at rest. This information is important when a participant enters a heavily shielded indoor structure and tracking is interrupted. If the device is at rest and the participant is in range of the June 2012: Draft for Public Comment 5

11 device, the participant s location can be established with a high degree of certainty. Because most participants spend a majority of their time indoors, this is no small issue. One-piece devices cannot easily capitalize on this technology; even when sleeping, a participant s leg moves frequently and therefore the device is never completely at rest. Most one-piece tracking devices rely on cellular communications and thus are of little value in areas where there is no cellular coverage. For example, a number of participants live in remote geographic areas of the country. Due to a lack of cellular coverage, many of these participants can only be tracked passively with devices that have a landline option for uploading data. Signal reception is typically better with a device worn at waist level. Generally, the higher the tracking device is above the ground, the better the reception will be. One-piece devices worn at the ankle are also more frequently subjected to unintentional shielding. For example, when a participant drives a vehicle, the ankle-worn device is usually under the dashboard and only a short distance from the engine block, not an advantageous place for radio frequency (RF) reception and transmissions to occur. Post-Processing and Onboard Processing Systems An often overlooked design consideration is how OTSs process location and schedule events. Where a system stores its zone and schedule information can have a significant effect on how quickly and efficiently an agency receives notice of noncompliance. Zones and schedules can be stored either on the tracking device or on a server in the vendor s data center. In some cases, the system stores the zones in one location and the schedules at the other. Systems that use post-processing of collected location data store the participant s zone and schedule information at the data center. After the tracking device uploads location data, the information is compared to the participant s inclusion zones, exclusion zones and schedule. Any detected noncompliance results in notification to the supervising agency. Strictly enforcing zones and schedules of participants of post-processing systems requires frequent uploads of location data. Onboard processing systems store zone and/or schedule information on the tracking device assigned to the participant. With this configuration, the participant s location can be immediately compared to his/her inclusion zones, exclusion zones and/or schedules in order to more quickly identify infractions. An infraction will trigger an immediate upload to the data center and agency notification. With onboard processing, your agency can schedule less frequent uploads (during periods without infractions), which saves in communication costs while conserving power. June 2012: Draft for Public Comment 6

12 Intellectual property rights may limit where a vendor stores zones and schedules. However, the need for agencies to quickly identify program noncompliance without increasing costs is driving the market to create new and innovative ways to efficiently provide agencies with timely alerts. An agency should discuss the methodology used with any potential vendor before selecting an OTS. Auxiliary Equipment Beacons are optional cordless RF transmitting devices designed to work in conjunction with both one- and multi-piece OTSs. Some beacons switch the location system to an RF mode when the tracking device comes within a designated range. Beacons also allow agencies to track when a participant enters or exits a designated area. An agency places a beacon at a known location, usually the participant s home or workplace. When a tracking device comes in proximity to a beacon, it can turn off other location technologies. This can significantly increase the interval between battery charges. It also enhances accuracy by eliminating occasional inaccurate location points obtained from GPS or other location-based systems. Your agency should know the distance at which a beacon will operate and if you can adjust that distance. Car chargers are useful auxiliary equipment for participants who do not always have ready access to an alternating current (AC) power source, but agencies should caution participants about charging while driving. Some agencies supply participants with car chargers to use in the event of a power failure caused by natural disasters. Car chargers are also helpful for participants who travel long distances, such as truck drivers, and for homeless participants who live in their cars. June 2012: Draft for Public Comment 7

13 Chapter 2. Procurement Considerations Criminal justice agencies are becoming more involved in the use of technology as a means to track and monitor participants. New laws and public demands task these agencies with maintaining public safety while monitoring higher risk participants in the community. Your agency should evaluate a number of factors prior to making a procurement decision. This chapter discusses these factors in detail. Importance of Certification Purchasing agents should procure only certified products (those deemed compliant with the requirements of NIJ Standard as determined by an independent, third-party certification body). This certification gives the end user a level of confidence in the performance of the OTS. The certified product will include the certification organization s mark of conformity in addition to, or attached to, the product label to demonstrate compliance with NIJ Standard When procuring certified equipment, purchasing agents should confirm the presence of the certification organization s mark. NIJ CR specifies requirements for the independent third-party certification of OTS equipment. Some key items addressed within NIJ CR include: Initial evaluation and testing according to the requirements of the standard and a review of documentation needed prior to production of the OTS model. Bi-annual evaluation to include an onsite audit of the manufacturing location(s). The audit shall include, at a minimum, a review of the OTS manufacturer s quality management system. The certification organization will evaluate the product and make a determination on testing that may be required. Actions to be taken in the event of hardware or software changes. If a manufacturer chooses to make a system-level hardware component change or proposes to alter the methodology used for determining location, the OTS manufacturer shall submit that change and related documentation to the certification organization prior to implementation. The certification organization will determine (1) which tests, if any, are required to be performed to demonstrate continued compliance and (2) whether the change is so significant that it will result in a new model. The benefits of procuring and using certified systems include: June 2012: Draft for Public Comment 8

14 The standard and conformity assessment documentation were developed by practitioners to address the needs of the field, and take into account operational requirements. OTS models are tested and certified by independent organizations. Certified OTS models are listed on publicly accessible certified products lists (CPLs). An informational page for OTS models is available on and includes the NIJ documents and links to CPLs. This page is a one-stop Internet resource containing relevant details and links for agency managers, procurement officials and end users. The availability of certified models listed on an Internet-based CPL means that it is not necessary to rely solely on manufacturer claims. Choosing the Proper Technology There are a variety of tracking technologies used to monitor participants locations. (See Active, Passive and Hybrid Tracking; Multi-piece and One-piece Systems, and Post-Processing and Onboard Processing in Chapter 1.) Choose the technology that best meets your agency s objectives. Whether your agency chooses active or passive tracking may depend on the risk level of the participant and/or expected response time to alerts. Whether the technology will alert a victim to the proximity of a participant also can play an important role in technology selection. Some agencies may have a preference for either one-piece or multi-piece systems. Because not all vendors offer each of these configurations, your agency may narrow the list of potential vendors by deciding on a technology. However, before prematurely eliminating a type of technology, you should thoroughly evaluate each approach and weigh each against program objectives. Hardware Considerations. In addition to the factors discussed in Chapter 1, your agency should also ask other questions about the proposed hardware. They include: Is the size and weight of the device acceptable for its intended application? Does the device use multiple location technologies? What is the expected battery life between charges under normal use? What is the manufacturer s suggested charging time? How many times can a battery be charged before it needs to be replaced? June 2012: Draft for Public Comment 9

15 What cellular provider does the vendor use for active tracking? Is that cellular provider the best choice for the locations where the participants will be tracked? Can the vendor use more than one cellular provider? Does the vendor offer accessories such as car chargers and beacons? Does the device have the ability to monitor in both active and passive modes? Does the device use any motion-sensing technology that can extend battery life? Is the device designed with tamper-evident features? What, if any, device components are considered consumables? Software Considerations. Software features and usability may be the most significant factors in determining your agency s overall satisfaction with its selected OTS. Your agency should carefully consider a bidder s software features. Be sure to ask the following: Is the software web-based? What are the minimum requirements for the agency computers? Does additional software need to be added to agency computers? Is mapping of the jurisdiction up to date? Are new housing developments and roadways displayed in the vendor s mapping? Are aerial and street views available? Does the mapping software display points of interest? Can the mapping software perform reverse geocoding? Does the software allow for the creation of free-form zones? Can global zones be developed? Can zone templates be created for certain classes of participants? Are the reports generated by the software consistent with the needs of the agency? Can the vendor provide custom reports as needed? Can the system perform automated crime scene correlation (instantly querying all participants about their presence at a designated location at a designated time)? Can the software notify officers in the field of alerts? June 2012: Draft for Public Comment 10

16 Is the software accessible via portable mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets? Can the OTS data be easily integrated with an agency s case management system? After gathering information about the bidder s hardware and software, ask vendors for a free trial of their tracking system (see Equipment Trials later in this chapter). Validate their responses and have users evaluate system functionality. (For additional information about selecting the appropriate technology, please refer to Matching Technology to Offender Type in Chapter 4.) Vendor Considerations Selecting the right vendor is critical to the success of an OTS program. When evaluating and selecting a vendor, your agency should consider many factors, most of which should be addressed during the procurement and contract process. Agencies also should evaluate the technical support and training provided by the vendor. Below is a list of other questions an agency should ask a potential vendor: How many years has the vendor been in business? Will the vendor disclose its corporate financial records, including profit and loss statements for past five years? What types of technologies are offered? How many of the vendor s OTS devices are currently in use? Do the vendor s current and past customers provide positive references? Will the vendor disclose current and previous legal actions in which it was named as a plaintiff or respondent? If applicable, what are the statuses/outcomes of these cases? Does the vendor have a quality assurance/quality control program in place for its systems, equipment and services? Does the vendor have a staffing plan? How does the vendor determine if there is sufficient staff to service its customer base? Does the vendor have employees who can competently attest to its methodology and products performance in any legal proceedings? How will equipment returns be handled and at whose expense? Will the vendor allow a percentage of spare tracking devices at no additional cost? Who will be responsible for lost or damaged equipment? June 2012: Draft for Public Comment 11

17 Will the vendor supply updated equipment when it becomes available? Does the vendor provide field support? Does the vendor have written policies and procedures in place for its employees? Is the vendor a manufacturer or a third-party vendor? Monitoring Center Services Offered When evaluating a vendor, your agency should consider the type of support services needed to effectively manage the monitoring program. A vendor can offer various levels of support. Some agencies prefer a full-service option that provides onsite vendor representatives who install equipment and respond to all alerts. Other agencies choose to do all of the work themselves and rely on the vendor to provide only automated alerts. These varying levels of support may be offered at significantly different costs. Your agency should choose a plan that best meets the needs of the program while staying within budget restrictions. For vendor-operated monitoring centers, your agency should consider the following factors: What level of service is the vendor proposing and at what cost? During what hours of operation is the service available? Are there sufficient phone lines to accommodate anticipated communication needs and sufficient support staff to handle issues as they arise? Does the vendor have the ability to implement custom alert notification protocols for the agency? Does the vendor conduct criminal history checks of monitoring center employees and provide that information to the agency? Does the vendor maintain a secure offsite facility for storing backup data? Are there redundant sources of communication and power? Has the vendor previously lost any agency s historical data? For additional information on monitoring centers, please refer to Data, Monitoring and Alert Centers in Chapter 4. June 2012: Draft for Public Comment 12

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